British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled what he is calling a radical government agenda, setting his sights on a quick Brexit, future trade deals and transforming Britain to repay voters’ trust.
Just a week after he won the largest Conservative majority since Margaret Thatcher in 1987, the prime minister’s Queen’s Speech offers details of Johnson’s plans for Britain after more than three years of Brexit upheaval.
Johnson showed he intends to try to satisfy the demands of voters in northern and central England who broke their tradition of backing the opposition Labour Party to support him.
Among pledges to boost funding for the state health service, increase sentences for violent crime and enhance workers’ rights, Johnson made his campaign slogan to “get Brexit done” his number one priority, confirming he would lead Britain out of the European Union on January 31.
He ruled out any extension beyond 2020 to the transition period to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU, and suggested he would hold trade talks with other countries at the same time.
“Our first task is to get Brexit done and we will leave the EU at the end of January,” Johnson said on Thursday in the foreword to the Queen’s Speech, in which the monarch sets out her government’s program at the beginning of a new parliament.
“We will release the country from the stranglehold of indecision, restoring confidence to people and businesses. We will avoid the trap of further dither and delay – by ruling out any extension to the implementation period beyond 2020.”
On Friday, Johnson plans to begin the process of passing legislation needed to ratify Britain’s EU exit on January 31, after which date the government department specially created to oversee Brexit will be closed.
Calling his government’s program the “most radical Queen’s Speech in a generation”, Johnson outlined plans to overturn the economic austerity the Conservative Party has overseen for the last nine years.
He promised to spend more on Britain’s much-loved but struggling National Health Service (NHS) by passing legislation to guarantee funding increases, rising to an extra STG33.9 billion ($A64.6 billion) per year by 2023-24.
He also promised better education, better infrastructure and better technology, and pledged a review of Britain’s security, defence and foreign policy in the “most radical reassessment of our place in the world since the end of the Cold War”.
Labour’s finance policy chief John McDonnell said the government’s agenda offered “nothing new … for our NHS and public services or people struggling this Christmas”, describing the government as “out of touch”.
But with a majority of 80 in parliament, Johnson is pretty much assured of getting his program passed by the House of Commons, allowing him almost free reign to set the agenda.
And he even suggested he could win another term at an election due in 2024.
“Just imagine where this country could be in 10 years’ time,” he said.